How to Talk to Your Partner About Urinary Incontinence

Whether you or your partner is the one with incontinence, it can still be a very fraught subject to have a conversation about. Discover tips for having a conversation about urinary incontinence —  whether you’re the one struggling with bladder leakage or not:

If You Have Incontinence

If you’re the one with incontinence, you are probably a bit nervous about broaching such a touchy subject with your partner, especially if the relationship is on the newer side.

Here are six tips for starting a conversation about frequent urination:

Educate yourself first.

Before you have a conversation with your partner, make sure that you know everything you want to mention about incontinence: what type you have, what your treatment plan is, whether your symptoms are likely temporary or chronic, etc. 

You might want to make a list of what you want to cover so you don’t forget anything. You might also want to learn a few facts about how widespread incontinence is and how many people it affects.

Choose the right time and place.

A crowded restaurant or a stressful workday isn’t the best time to have a serious conversation about anything, including incontinence. Choose a time and place when you’ll both be relaxed and you can have a bit of privacy as well. 

You don’t want the environment or the timing to make things difficult, so be savvy about when you broach the discussion.

Older couple having a talk - featured image

Be honest about it.

You don’t have to go into all the details (unless you want to), but don’t beat around the bush either. Be frank about your incontinence and frame it as a medical issue, which is exactly what it is. Your partner will appreciate your straightforwardness, which also sets a good grounding for other serious conversations moving forward.

Consider a humorous approach.

This doesn’t work for everyone, but if you generally use humor to lighten the mood, then that can help make the conversation flow a bit more smoothly.

Humor can diffuse tension and help put both you and your partner at ease, so if you tend to crack jokes, don’t feel like you need to suppress that side of yourself during the conversation. (And let’s be honest, there’s a lot of humor to be found in the bathroom.)

Ask for what you need.

If you need something from your partner, whether that’s emotional support or picking up your incontinence products for women, this conversation is a perfect time to bring it up. Even if you don’t know what you need from them right at this moment, you can leave the door open to ask about it later. 

middle aged couple

Focus on solutions.

It’s a good idea to end the conversation with whatever your treatment plan is, so you end on a solution instead of a problem. Let your partner know what you do to manage your incontinence and how that impacts both your life and your relationships. This will wrap up the conversation on a more positive note and give you both a concrete plan for moving forward.

If Your Partner Has Incontinence

Sometimes people who have incontinence may not feel ready to initiate the conversation. They may feel embarrassed or ashamed or worried that you will judge them. Letting them know that you still love them and want to support them however you can will go a long way towards helping them open up about this health issue.

Here are some other tips for opening up a dialogue with a partner who has incontinence:

Make them feel comfortable.

Many people with incontinence are uncomfortable discussing the topic and also worried that talking about it will make their partner feel uncomfortable as well. Do what you can to dispel any feeling of discomfort and dispel any uneasiness they may be feeling.

Choose to initiate the conversation in a private, safe environment such as your home where they will feel relaxed and comfortable. Be frank and open about the issue. Don’t make light of it, but also don’t make it out to be a bigger obstacle than it is.

Let them lead.

Don’t push your loved one to talk about it before they’re ready or push them to go into detail if they don’t want to. Driving them beyond where they are comfortable will only push you apart and make things harder.

Let them know that you’re open to talking about it, and then take your cues from them. Eventually, they will be ready to talk about it, but it might just take them a little more time.

a couple holding hands

Be an advocate for them.

If you’re already in a long-term relationship or married, you can be a partner in their healthcare journey. It can be really helpful to have someone else with you at appointments to take notes or to write out questions beforehand.

If your partner is willing to have your help, acting as an advocate for their care can help reduce some of the stress and confusion of navigating the complex health system.

Ask how you can support them.

It’s also possible to go too far in the other direction and overwhelm your partner with help and research they don’t actually want or need. Again, take your cues from your partner and check in with them regularly. Their needs might change throughout their journey, so they may want more help initially and then later ask you to back off, or vice versa.

Having frank conversations about hard subjects is critical to a strong foundation in any relationship. Follow these tips to begin a conversation with your partner about incontinence.

Last Updated on May 19, 2022

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